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2013 Lexus RX 350 F Sport AWD Rocky Mountain Review By Dan Poler

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2013 Lexus RX 350 F Sport AWD

By Dan Poler
Rocky Mountain Bureau
The Auto Channel

2013 Lexus RX 350 F Sport AWD

A pioneer in what we’d now call the luxury crossover segment, the Lexus RX has always been known for its impeccable combination of luxury comfort, soft-roading capabilities, and mixture of space for people and gear. For 2013, Lexus has made minor updates to the RX 350, including some stylistic changes and updates to electronics and convenience features.

Always a well-equipped vehicle, the 2013 RX 350 includes one of the most generous standard equipment lists in the segment, including 18-inch wheels, auto on/off headlights, foglamps, LED running lamps, rear privacy glass, heated mirrors, a power rear liftgate, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power adjustable front seats with adjustable lumbar, a leather-wrapped power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a sliding and reclining rear seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a nine-speaker sound system with a six-CD changer, satellite radio and an iPod/USB audio interface.

Also new for 2013 is an F Sport trim for the RX 350, which we got to take a look at. On the outside, the F Sport receives 19-inch wheels and new styling, but there is still an emphasis on Lexus’ corporate identity, as well as utility – while the F Sport trim receives, for example, a front fascia that hangs lower to the ground, it is not so low that one need worry about catching it on curbs and parking barriers. Overall, the exterior styling is a refreshing take on the RX 350, adding just that hint of aggressiveness without turning this crossover into something impractical for daily use.

Inside the cabin we find all of Lexus’ recent updates and accouterments. Seating all around is comfortable and rear seats fold mostly flat when needed to enhance the already-ample cargo space. There is great attention to detail in providing storage areas, such as door pockets for the front doors that tilt open to reveal access to their contents, and a space between the front passengers’ legs for storage of a purse or small briefcase. The driver may find the controls to be a bit busy with its array of small, oddly-grouped buttons below the dashboard and to the right and left of the steering wheel.

The RX 350 uses Lexus’ now range-standard navigation and entertainment system. We found the system to be generally easy to use, with a little practice – the system is controlled with a mouselike pointing device called Remote Touch, and we suspect that drivers’ reactions to the control setup will be polarized – either they’ll love it or they’ll hate it – it does require consideration and some time playing at the dealership to see which category into which you’ll fall. Regardless, there are a few actions that we wish would take fewer steps to complete, such as adjusting the volume of the route guidance.

Despite these minor considerations, the RX 350 is a pleasure to drive.

The cabin is quiet and serene. Forward visibility is excellent, and rear visibility, while not perfect, is augmented by a very good blind spot monitor setup. The driver may find that the numerous green lights in the dash for routine items can be overwhelming – the light for the blind spot monitoring, the light for the parking sensors, the light for the automatic headlights, the intermittent “eco” light to tell the driver they’re driving conservatively… But fortunately at least some of these items can be switched off when not in use, providing a less distracting experience. Handling is effortless, with good feedback, and the all-wheel drive system does an excellent job of putting power where it needs to be – and includes a switch to manually lock the differential should things get interesting.

Our test vehicle provided for a heads-up display which projects speed and current gear onto the windshield within the driver’s field of view. It’s certainly handy to have, but it’s a pricey option at $1,200.

In addition to updated exterior styling, the F Sport package for the RX 350 includes some mechanical changes as well, including an upgraded 8-speed transmission and sport-tuned suspension. The transmission greatly enhances the feel of the RX 350, with smooth, barely noticeable shifts during routine driving. The sport-tuned suspension contributes nicely to the feel of the vehicle, providing a firm ride that minimizes body roll without being overly harsh. While these options are nice to have, they don’t do much to improve performance.

Lexus’ excellent reputation for safety continues here in the RX 350, where we find antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front and rear side airbags, side curtain airbags, and front knee airbags. The RX 350 also features Lexus’ Safety Connect system that provides automatic collision alert and stolen vehicle location services. The RX 350 receives an overall five-star rating from the US government crash testing regimen.

The RX 350 continues to be an excellent – and founding – choice in the luxury crossover segment. Whether the F Sport package is appropriate for you, however, is a good question. The stylistic enhancements are nice and the 8-speed transmission is a pleasure to work with, but the increased firmness of the ride may not appeal to everyone, and commanding a premium of $7,500 over a comparably equipped base RX more may be a tough sell.allo

2013 Lexus RX 350 F Sport AWD
Base Price: $39,310.00
Price as Tested: $53,865.00
Engine Type: Four Cam 24-Valve V6 with Variable Valve Timing
Engine Size: 3.5 Liter
Horsepower: 270
Torque (lb-ft): 248
Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic with Paddle Shifters
Wheelbase / Length (in): 107.9 / 187.8
Curb Weight: 4,510
Pounds per HP: 16.7
Fuel Capacity (gal): 19.2
Fuel Requirement: Regular unleaded
Tires: Dunlop GrandTrek A/S, P235/55VR19
Brakes, front/rear: Ventilated Disc / Solid Disc
Suspension, front/rear: MacPherson Strut / Double Wishbone
Ground clearance (in): 7.3
Drivetrain: Full-Time All Wheel Drive with Active Torque Control
EPA Fuel Economy - MPG city / highway / observed: 18 / 26 / 20
Towing capacity (lb): 3,500
Base Trim Price: $47,000

Options and Charges
Blind Spot Monitor: $500.00
Heads Up Display: $1,200.00
Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound, Single DVD/CD Player, HD Radio
with iTunes tagging, and 15 speakers: $995.00
Navigation System with Voice Command, Lexus Enform, Screen Multimedia
Display, and Destination Assist, eDestination, App Suite, SiriusXM NavTraffic,
NavWeather, Stocks, Sports, and Fuel Prices: $2,775.00
Intuitive Parking Assist: $500.00
Delivery: $895.00

Price as tested: $53,865.00